Home / News / World /  WHO will most likely declare Monkeypox a global health emergency: Report

The World Health Organisation (WHO) may designate Monkeypox a global health emergency even though the global body's expert group is split over the decision, reported news agency Reuters, quoting sources. 

The committee met on Thursday to moot the issue. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is responsible for making the final decision, has always gone with the committee's recommendation in the past. 

However, despite the lack of a majority opinion, he is seriously considering declaring the agency's highest level of alert for Monkeypox due to his concern about the urgency of the situation.

Tedros will address a virtual press conference at 1300 GMT on Saturday to announce his decision. 

The label - a "public health emergency of international concern" - currently only applies to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio.

Need for WHO call

In recent weeks, pressure has been increasing from scientists and public health experts for the WHO and national governments to take more action on Monkeypox. 

There have now been more than 14,000 cases reported, and five deaths, from 71 WHO member states.

When the committee first met at the end of June, there were only about 3,000 cases.

The WHO alert serves to raise the alarm and can also unlock funding and global efforts to collaborate on sharing vaccines and treatments.

There are already effective treatments and vaccines for Monkeypox, but they are in short supply. The WHO has also been providing advice and updates since the outbreak began in early May.

Call for vaccination

Some experts have raised concerns that declaring Monkeypox as a global emergency could inadvertently worsen the rush for vaccines, despite the mildness of the disease being seen in most countries.

Dr Dimie Ogoina, a professor of medicine at Nigeria's Niger Delta University, said he feared the world’s limited vaccine supplies would result in a repeat of the problems that arose in the coronavirus pandemic when poorer countries were left empty-handed after rich countries hoarded most of the doses.

“It does not make sense to just control the outbreak in Europe and America because you will then still have the (animal) source of the outbreak in Africa," said Ogoina, who sits on WHO’s Monkeypox emergency committee, earlier this week.

With inputs from agencies. 

 

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